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Claim and Recover Stolen Funds Sent by Western Union Thanks to the Department of Justice

Recover Money Sent by Western Union, Thanks to the Department of Justice

With such a wide range of years covered, any person or dealership that had money stolen via sending a Western Union Money Transfer can get the stolen money returned by participating in the Western Union Remission program. It's actually pretty easy, when you use the website, the DOJ's system tells you how much Western Union records show you or your business sent. You will need your dealership's Federal Tax ID Number and/or your social security number, but if you ever got ripped off and you sent the money to the perpetrator via Western Union, then its worth the small effort it takes... I did it.

Here are a few choice quotes from Federal Prosecutors:

    

“As this case shows, wiring money can be the fastest way to send it – directly into the pockets of criminals and scam artists,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Bitkower. “Western Union is now paying the price for placing profits ahead of its own customers. Together with our colleagues, the Criminal Division will both hold to account those who facilitate fraud and abuse of vulnerable populations, and also work to recoup losses and compensate victims.”


“Western Union owes a responsibility to American consumers to guard against fraud, but instead the company looked the other way, and its system facilitated scammers and rip-offs,” said Chairwoman Ramirez. “The agreements we are announcing today will ensure Western Union changes the way it conducts its business and provides more than a half billion dollars for refunds to consumers who were harmed by the company’s unlawful behavior.”


“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has a long history of prosecuting corrupt Western Union Agents,” said U.S. Attorney Brandler. “Since 2001, our office, in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, has charged and convicted 26 Western Union Agents in the United States and Canada who conspired with international fraudsters to defraud tens of thousands of U.S. residents via various forms of mass marketing schemes. I am gratified that the deferred prosecution agreement reached today with Western Union ensures that $586 million will be available to compensate the many victims of these frauds.”

SHOWN BELOW IS A SCREEN CAPTURE FROM THE WESTERN UNION REMISSION HOME PAGE that is linked to the form page where you can submit a petition for remission:

Frequently Asked Questions About Western Union Remission Program



  1. What is this case about?

    Western Union paid $586 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission (or FTC), and the Department of Justice (or DOJ).   The company admitted to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. The U. S. Postal Inspection Service investigated various schemes in which fraudsters contacted victims and falsely posed as family members in need or federal law enforcement officials, or falsely promised prizes, loans, employment opportunities, discounted products or other financial awards. The fraudsters directed the victims to send money through Western Union to help relatives, avoid imprisonment or arrest, or to claim prizes, receive loans, employment, products or some other financial award.  No one received the cash, prizes or other promised items.

  2. Who is eligible to file a Petition for Remission, and how?

    You may be eligible for a remission payment if you sent a money transfer through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, and were the victim of fraud.  To apply, you must file a Petition of Remission. We mailed many victims petitions with pre-populated loss amounts. Those forms can be returned online or in the mail to the claims administrator.  If you didn’t get a pre-filled petition, you may file a petition electronically here.

  3. If I qualify, how much money will I get back?

    The amount you get will probably be a percentage of the amount you lost minus any refund you have already gotten.

     Your payment will be based only on the amount of the money transfer. You cannot recover collateral expenses such as Western Union fees, incidental losses, or transfers sent through other companies.

  4. What is remission?

    The money paid by Western Union will be made available to victims through a process called "remission." The remission process is governed by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Part 9. If you file a petition for remission detailing the loss amount, DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section will compare the requests to Western Union’s records and decide whether to grant the petition. After DOJ has reviewed all petitions, approved petitioners will get payment for some or all of their approved loss.

  5. What will I need to do to get a payment?

    To be considered, you must file a Petition for Remission on or before February 12, 2018.  We mailed many victims petitions with pre-populated loss amounts. Those forms can be returned online or in the mail to the claims administrator.  If you didn’t get a pre-filled petition, you may file a petition electronically here.

  6. How do I file a Petition for Remission?

    You must apply by February 12, 2018. You can file a petition here or mail your petition to:

    United States v. The Western Union Company

    P.O. Box 404027

    Louisville, KY 40233-4027

  7. What should I do if I disagree with the loss amount printed on my petition?

    If you disagree with the loss amount printed on your petition, fill out the information requested on the petition and supply documentation (Western Union money transfer send form and receipt and information detailing the fraud) to support your claim. Do not send original documents.

  8. Which Western Union transfers qualify?

    All wire transfers within and outside of the United States made through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, may be eligible for remission.

  9. Do I have to be a United States citizen or in the United States to file a petition?

    No. You are not required to be a United States citizen or in the United States to file a petition.

  10. When will I get a payment?

    It will still take some time—potentially a year or more—to process and verify petitions, and determine who is eligible to get a payment.  Check www.WesternUnionRemission.com for updates on the status of the process.

  11. What will happen if I do nothing?

    If you do not submit a Petition for Remission, you will not get a payment.

  12. Can an attorney file a Petition on behalf of their client?

    Yes, but they will need to supply signed documents from each victim indicating they represent them and are permitted to file the Petition on their behalf.  The SSN/TIN provided must be that of the client and not the attorney.

  13. Why am I required to provide my Social Security Number?

    If your petition is approved, it must be reviewed by the Treasury Offset Program to verify that you do not owe any money to the federal government or certain state debts. If you owe money, your payment will be used to pay your debt. If your payment is more than the amount you owe, you will get the remainder.
    Only the amount of the transfer will be included in approved remission amounts. Collateral expenses such as Western Union fees, incidental losses, or transfers sent through other businesses are not recoverable through the remission process. More information is available at https://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/fsservices/gov/debtColl/dms/top/deb...

  14. What if I have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), but do not have a Social Security number?

    If you have an ITIN, enter your ITIN instead of a Social Security Number.  Do not check the box that says “Check this box if you do not have a Social Security number.”

  15. What if I do not have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number?

    If you do not have an ITIN or a Social Security number, check the box that says you do not have a Social Security number. When asked for a reason, you can explain that you’re not a US citizen, or whatever other explanation applies.

  16. Where can I get more information?

    For the latest information about the remission process:

    •           Check www.WesternUnionRemission.com for updates.

    •           email info@westernunionremission.com

    •           Or call (844)319-2124

Western Union Remission Program Links:

  1. Home
  2. Case Documents
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Contact Us

Links to Case Documents

Press Release
Information
Deferred Prosecution Agreement
FTC Press Release
Complaint for Permanent Injunctive and Other Equitable Relief
Signed FTC Order
Middle District of Pennsylvania Complaint
Eastern District of Pennsylvania Complaint
Southern District of Florida Complaint
Central District of California Complaint
Southern District of Florida Forfeiture
Middle District of Pennsylvania Forfeiture
Central District of California Forfeiture
Eastern District of Pennsylvania Forfeiture
Remission Form
Remission Form (Spanish)
Remission Form and Envelope Sample
Department of Justice Press Release

Source: http://www.westernunionremission.com/

 

We obtained the description of fraudulent schemes and crimes in the excerpts that follow (below) from Federal Court documents filed by the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles for the Central District of California...

The Fraudulent Schemes

During all relevant times, Western Union recorded complaints fromU.S. victims reporting the fraud scheme in what are known as Consumer Fraud Reports (“CFRs”). The CFRs contained detailed information about the victims, the transactions, and the Western Union Agent locations that paid the transfers. Western Union used the CFRs to track and investigate Agent locations that paid transfers reported as fraud-induced.


Starting in 2004 and ending in December 2012, Western Union violated U.S. laws by aiding and abetting Fraudsters in their unlawful schemes by remaining in business with Agent locations that facilitated the unlawful fraud scheme. Further, Western Union employees:

  1. repeatedly identified Agent locations involved in or facilitating fraud-related transactions but knowingly failed to take effective corrective action;
     
  2. repeatedly identified Western Union Agents involved in or facilitating unlawful structuring but knowingly failed to take effective corrective action;
     
  3. failed to adequately implement and maintain effective policies and procedures to discipline, suspend, terminate or take effective corrective action against Agent locations that repeatedly violated the Bank Secrecy Act or other statutes;
      
  4. modified compliance reviews or results to that Agents with severe compliance failures would not face disciplinary action such as suspension or termination as required by Western Union policies or practices;
      
  5. failed to take effective action to control transactions with characteristics indicative of illegal gaming; 
     
  6. failed to file Suspicious Activity Reports identifying Agents as suspicious actors. The fraud scheme involved the making of a variety of false promises and representations made for the purpose and with the intent of inducing victims in this district and others to send money through Western Union, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (wire fraud).

  
The scheme operated generally as follows: a Fraudster would make contact with a victim by phone, U.S. mail, interstate courier, or the Internet, and induce the victim to send money to the Fraudster through false promises and representations, including the following:

  1. Promises that the victim was eligible to receive a large cash prize, lottery winnings, a loan, or other payment;
     
  2. False offers that the victim was eligible to purchase various high-ticket items for sale over the Internet at deeply discounted prices;
     
  3. False promises of employment opportunities to become “secret shoppers,” who would be paid to evaluate retail stores;
     
  4. A false claim that the Fraudster was a relative of the victim, or was acting on behalf of or for the benefit of such a relative, and was in some kind of trouble and in urgent need of money.

      

The Fraudster would then instruct the victim that it was necessary for the victim to send money to obtain the promised benefit or provide the needed relief. The Fraudster would then direct the victim to send the advance payment using Western Union’s Money Transfer System.

  

After the victim sent the money through the Money Transfer System according to the Fraudster’s instructions, he or she would provide the MTCN to the Fraudster, who would visit an Agent location, including locations that were controlled or staffed by individuals who were complicit in the fraud, and obtain the money.

The complicit Western Union Agent locations facilitated the scheme by, among other things, knowingly entering into the Money Transfer System false addresses, telephone numbers, and personal identification document information for the payee Fraudsters or their associates. This allowed the Fraudsters to receive the money or retransfer the funds to other complicit Western Union Agent locations without creating a reliable record of who actually received the funds transferred from the victim.

In return for their assistance in concealing the true identities of the Fraudsters and their involvement in the scheme, the complicit Agents received kickbacks from the Fraudsters, generally drawn from the victim funds transferred.


At no time did the Fraudsters intend to provide the promised benefits to the victims, or the promised relief to family members purportedly in need of assistance. Indeed, with respect to the latter, the claimed distress and need for assistance was entirely illusory. Nevertheless, the victims, in reliance upon the false promises and representations, made the money transfers, but in fact did not receive either the return of their transferred funds or the benefits promised to them.

 
Western Union maintained a 1-800 number through which many of the victims of the scheme reported their losses. These reports were memorialized by Western Union in CFRs, which contained detailed information about the victims, the fraudulent transactions, and the Agent locations where the payees
received the transferred funds.

The CFRs were maintained by Western Union in a database and Western Union purported to use that information to identify, track and investigate Agent locations where transfers had been reported as having been induced by fraud. However, in reality, Western Union failed to suspend and/or terminate Agents complicit in the fraud scheme and allowed those Agents to continue to process fraudulent transactions.

       

Between 2004 and 2012, the CFRs created by Western Union showed more than $500,000,000.00 in reported fraud transactions involving the Money Transfer System, and Western Union knew that not all victims of the scheme reported their losses.

Western Union employees knew, as a result of the company’s own internal reports and analyses regarding particular Agent locations throughout the world that the total amount of loss attributable to the scheme was higher than the amount reflected in the CFRs.


Western Union was aware that some of its Agents had been criminally charged for their involvement in the scheme. Dozens of Western Union Agents and their criminal associates, including some in this district, were criminally charged for their participation in the scheme described herein, using the Western
Union Money Transfer System.

Western Union itself identified numerous Agent locations — particularly overseas Agent locations — that processed high numbers of fraud induced transfers from victims across the United States, including Agent locations that Western Union suspected were complicit in the fraud scheme.

Western Union aided and abetted the scheme by failing to take sufficient action to stop these Agents from continuing to participate or facilitate the scheme. Moreover, Western Union’s failure to take corrective action despite this knowledge was in violation of provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act that required Western Union to monitor international Agents and intervene where such Agents were believed to be involved in violations of applicable laws or regulations.

While some Western Union employees recommended corrective actions in the form of policies and procedures that might have addressed the scheme, and recommended specific discipline against certain Western Union Agent locations, Western Union failed to act on those recommendations.

  1. For example, as early as 2004, an employee in Western Union’s Corporate Security Department drafted proposed Global Guidelines that provided for the investigation of any Agent location that was the subject of ten CFRs within a 60-day period, and suspending any such Agent that was subject to five additional CFRs within the next 60 days. Western Union failed to adopt this proposed policy. Had it done so, Western Union would have suspended or terminated more than 2,000 Agents worldwide, preventing significant losses to victims.
      
  2. As early as 2005, Western Union’s Corporate Security Department used CFRs to generate a regular 60-day Fraud Report, identifying Agent locations that were the subject of five or more CFRs within a 60-day period. Despite warnings that repeated inclusion in the Fraud Report would result in suspension of certain Agent locations, and that such locations were required to “drastically reduce” their handling of such transactions, no such disciplinary action was taken against such locations.

While the fraud scheme described herein was global in scope, reaching foreign countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico and Peru, most of the fraud occurred, and most of the victims of the scheme were located, in the United States, including in this district.

The following are typical examples of how victims were defrauded as part of this scheme. Each of the examples below represents victims who were defrauded through Agents that would have been disciplined, suspended, or terminated had Western Union implemented the proposed Global Guidelines.

  1. A Fraudster falsely promised a victim in the U.S. that he had won a prize and needed to pay money in advance to claim the prize. The victim followed the Fraudster’s instructions to transfer $2,350.00 through Western Union to London, England. The money was picked up the next day. The victim never received his prize.
        
  2. A Fraudster contacted a victim in the U.S. and falsely promised that the victim would receive a job if he paid money in advance. The victim followed the Fraudster’s instructions and transferred $2,155.00 through Western Union. The money was picked up the next day at a Western Union Agent in London, England. The victim never received the promised job.
       
  3. A Fraudster contacted a victim in the U.S. and falsely represented that a member of the victim’s family was in trouble abroad and needed money. The victim followed the Fraudster’s instructions, and sent $3,866.00 through Western Union to help the relative. The money was picked up at an Agent location in Spain, but the victim’s family member was not, in fact, in trouble. The money was never recovered.
       
  4. Fraudsters induced two U.S. victims to make transfers of $7,490 and $7,050 respectively based on a false representation that the victim’s relatives were in trouble in a foreign country and needed money. Following the Fraudster’s instructions, the victims sent the money to Mexico. The money was never recovered and relatives were never in trouble.

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Tags: Remission, Union, Western

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